In his years with the New Orleans Saints personnel department, Bears general manager Ryan Pace was involved in occasional picks of wide receivers high in their respective drafts. Those receivers — and the selection of Kevin White by Pace at No. 7 in the 2015 draft — point a clear arrow toward Pace’s philosophy in building an offense.
White is 6-3, 210 pounds, roughly the same height as Alshon Jeffery but a few pounds lighter. More to the Pace point: White ran a 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in 4.35 sec. That was unofficially faster than times posted by other supposed super-speed receivers.
“What's dangerous about this guy is he can catch a quick slant and break a tackle and go 99 yards,” Pace said. “He has that kind of play-making ability. You see the WR screens, the "now" routes and things like that. You throw him a little, short check-down, and he's gone.”
It fits with Pace’s preference. Where former GM Phil Emery went for size first (Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, tight end Martellus Bennett), Pace has a history of being involved with providing his quarterbacks speed bordering on frightening.
Pace was hired in 2001 as a Saints assistant. New Orleans selected Donte’ Stallworth with the 13th pick of the 2002 draft. Stallworth was timed at his Scouting Combine at 4.22 sec. in the 40. Stallworth averaged 15.1 yards per catch for his career.
Pace and the Saints selected wideout Devery Henderson in the 2004 second round. Henderson was a 4.3 speedball who would average a superb 17.9 yards per reception for his career.
The Saints chose Robert Meachem 27th in 2007. Meachem was a 4.39 burner who averaged 16.5 yards per catch in his six New Orleans seasons.
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Brandin Cooks with the 20th in 2014. Cooks was timed at 4.33 in his 40.
All of them would have trouble besting White, who caught 109 passes for West Virginia last season, in a footrace. And he fits with the template of physical receivers coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase want to become a balanced, physical offense.
“I like his size,” Pace said. “We've got two big receivers with Alshon as well, Eddie Royal can play in the slot, and don't forget Marquess Wilson. This guy can play all over so I see him as an outside receiver. …
“[White] is a special athlete. For his size, he’s big, he runs 4.3, he’s strong after the catch, and he’s a physical blocker. He really checks all the boxes you’re looking for in a receiver in our offense.”